family and friends of Eric George Smith filled St. Mary's
Anglican Church in Navan on Saturday to pay their final
respects to a member of Canada's greatest generation and
someone who was respected and loved by everyone who was
honoured to get to know him.
passed away at the age of 98 on Saturday, March 29. He is
survived by his wife Dinah, his daughter Erin Zintel, son-in-law
Bob and granddaughters Sarah and Kristen.
Saturday's service, Bob Zintel described meeting his future
father-in-law for the first time.
about his military service in the air force, I had done
my research and was ready for any conversation on the subject,"
said Zintel, who was 21 at the time. "but after our
initial introduction the conversation quickly turned to
my family name which actually originated in an area of the
Ukraine that at various times was in Poland and Germany.
So when he asked me where my family was from, in a deep
desire for this well-decorated military hero and a deep
desire for he and his wife to like me, I stammered Austria.
went on to sak me everything about my family. Who they were?
Where they all came from? Now one could understand as a
father, that this line of questioning for a boy who would
later in life ask for his daughter's hand in marriage would
be a way of sizing up the boy if you will. But actually
he was showing a genuine interest in me as a human being.
Finding a way to bridge our two communities so that we can
become one community. This was Eric. Making human connections
and building bridges."
Cumberland mayor and personal friend Brian Coburn also spoke
about how well respected Smith was by the community and
how proud he was of his family.
was the type of person that made you feel comfortable and
was gernerally interested in you and what you were doing,"
said Coburn. "He was indeed a people person."
was born in Navan and he grew up on the family farm near
the corner of Milton and Smith Roads which is named after
the Smith family. His father George Smith served in the
artillery during the First World War.
to become a teacher, but after one year in the profession
he enlisted in the air force at the age of 20. He would
end up flying 58 missions over Europe as a member of a mosquito
squadron based in England and earned a Distinguished Flying
the war, Eric served as a flight instructor, but when the
Korean War broke out he volunteered as an exchange pilot
with a U.S. Air Force squadron, flying 50 missions over
the Korean peninsula in a Sabre jet.
retired from the RCAF in 1968, Eric and his wife Dinah bought
a farm near Kemptville and he became a successful real estate
agent. He eventually retired for good in 1991. Ten years
later they sold the farm and moved back home to Navan where
he was an active member of the Navan Curling Club well into
his late 80s.
a redular attendee at the local Remembrance Day ceremony
including last year's ceremony and he was a frequent guest
of honour at the Orléans Legion's RCAF anniversary
who knew Eric often talk about his humble nature, his extraordinary
memory and his love of storytelling. But most of all they
talk about his generosity, especially when it came to his
willingness and genuine desire to spend time with people
and get to lnow them. He had time for everybody and he will
be deeply missed but never forgotten..
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)